Chelsea will take a 1-0 lead into the home leg of their Champions League last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid after Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick gave earnt them a narrow win in the first meeting.
Having dominated much of the game, Chelsea’s pressure eventually told with just over 20 minutes remaining when Giroud reacted to failed clearance to score in impressive fashion.
It puts the Blues in a good position heading into the reverse fixture, which is set to be held at Stamford Bridge despite Atletico being forced to give up their home advantage, with tonight’s match played in Romania.
Chelsea controlled the first half, taking a 71% share of the possession and having five attempts at goal compared to Atletico’s one.
But that was not reflected on the score line, with the sides going in goalless at the break.
Timo Werner did have two opportunities, but he failed to trouble Jan Oblak. First, he was unable to turn home Mason Mount’s inviting cross from the right, then he fired a shot straight at the towering ‘keeper after finding space in the box.
Thomas Lemar and Luis Suarez were provided with half chances for the Spaniards, whose game plan was clearly to counterattack, but neither could turn their efforts goalward.
The game settled back into the same rhythm early in the second half, with Chelsea seeing plenty of the ball and looking to create.
Mount was heavily involved, seeing a low shot blocked in the 50th minute before setting Werner away down the left after good work in midfield shortly after, however the German’s delivery into the middle was cut out by the defence.
Atletico remained typically strong at the back and the Blues were frustrated further when Jorginho picked up a booking that rules him out of the second leg. He joins Mount, who was booked earlier in the contest, in being suspended.
But Thomas Tuchel’s men finally made a deserved breakthrough in the 67th minute thanks to a spectacular overhead kick from Giroud.
After the ball ricocheted off Mario Hermoso and into the air, Giroud quickly adjusted himself before finding the bottom left corner with an acrobatic effort.
His celebrations were initially cut short after the linesman ruled he was offside, but a lengthy VAR review decided otherwise and the Frenchman was awarded his goal.
The La Liga leaders offered little in way of a response, failing to register a shot on goal all evening.
In fact it was Chelsea who came closest to finding the second goal of the game when Werner raced through, but he found the side netting.
But the Premier League side were able to comfortably see out the game and give themselves the upper hand in the tie with a textbook performance away from home in European competition.